Monday, April 9, 2012

It's Either Too Hot or Too Wet.

Don't know what's happening to the weather. Sometimes from the morning till about 2 -3 pm it's very hot and debilitating. Suddenly the sky turns black and it'll be pouring rain like some huge dam has broken in the sky. The city center in KL will be flooded. Klang, Kajang, JB, Kedah, Kelantan, Trengganu, even certain parts of Negri Sembilan which has never experienced any flood before will get a surfeit of the drink. And, ironically, the taps in our homes will run dry. Or pour out some muddy stuff.

No one can control the weather and the rain of course. Even the famous Malaysian rain-control magicians ( or rain bomohs) can only hive the rainstorm to some areas so that the place where some festivities or sporting events are being held will remain dry. Believe it or not, many outdoor sporting events and festival have remained uninterrupted by the rain while areas around the place where they are held will be raining cats and dogs. Science can never explain such phenomenon but if the magic works why not use it.

But so far no magician has come forward with a formula to solve the problem of flash floods. None of the flood-prone States, Districts, Municipalities or Town and City Councils or even the Federal irrigation and flood control "bomohs" has been able to concoct a mantra to solve the problem. A boy of thirteen travelling with me in a car when we got trapped in a flood commented: Why are the planners so stupid? They build roads with no side drain (monsoon drain we used to call it), and sometimes the drain in low areas is not deep enough for a buffalo to wallow in. I laughed at his simple-mindedness but am not too sure that he is stupid.
When I told him that it's often our rivers which have become too shallow or clogged with rubbish and cannot contain the flood water from the drains, he laughed and sang an old folk song: Oh crane, oh crane why are you so thin, it's because the fish don't appear, fish oh fish why don't you appear, because the grass is too long, grass oh grass why do you grow too long, because the buffaloes don't eat me, buffaloes oh buffaloes why don't you eat the grass, because there's no deep trenches for me to wallow in. (The last part is of course the kid's own creation).

I laughed and looked around the place during dry season. Sure enough the drains and trenches were so shallow or narrow to contain the water rushing down the steep roads and hills and carry it to the nearest river. The rivers in dry season were just rivers of sand with little rivulets flowing lazily. Even the buffaloes would not be interested in going into them. They have never been dredged let alone cleaned up.

Who to blame then? The planners, the irrigation and drainage experts, the authorities responsible for carrying out the dredging and cleaning up work, the supervisors, or the authority that dishes out the funds as approved by the planners. Back to the planners and as the Crane song has it: the buffaloes didn't eat the grass because of stomach ache, the stomach ached because of eating undercooked rice, the rice was undercooked because there wasn't enough wood to make a good fire, the wood couldn't burn well because it was wet, it was wet because of the rain, the rain came because it was called by the frog, the frog called the rain because the snake was chasing it, and the snake when asked why answered: it is my food.

So, why are the drains, the trenches and the rivers not big and deep enough for the flood water to be drained away? Because the planners didn't plan, they didn't plan because there was insufficient funds, why no funds? All spent to build the roads. Where will the merry go round stop?


kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
Brilliant to match the adapted nursery rhyme to what's on the ground.

Not quite the irritations that we faced not too long ago but only in recent times. Is this what we have to pay for progress and developments. May be, as the landscape is being carved up and bothered affecting the quick and smooth water flow. Or is it the aftermath of something more sinister because of 'leakages' within? May be both!


norzah said...

tq for the response, Akhi. The Crane song could be used in many occasions where a tautology is involved - after several questions we come back to the basic cause, the originator of the problem.

We have made a lot of progress in this country but a letdown in some critical areas of concern in everyday life makes th
e progress appear ironical.

rambomadonna said...

Well, I have to go with the planner and also the planning authorities. During my housing stint, I always noticed that town planning nowadays prefer to dense one area with population so as to attract commercial activities... that is getting big shopping malls to come in so that the area will increase in value.

When I went to HK recently, I couldn't see any moonsoon drain,all i see was buildings here and there. I did wonder with the buildings built so close to each other, where did all the sewerage went to.... And mind you, spring in Hong Kong meaning breezy and heavy rains huhuhuh...

BTW, I might consider returning to housing. They just offered me a higher position :)

norzah said...

Thanks for the response, Rambomadonna, and bringing in the Hong Kong example. True there does not seem to be any monsoon drain or open drainage along the roadsides. Yet we seldom here of flash floods. Is that true anyway? We used to here about heavy rain and serious landslides before. Not now. Has Hong Kong managed to overcome the problem? How? Maybe u can focus in that piece of ingenuity to bring home to Penang for application, then to Malaysia, especially if you're going back to Housing. Hey, we need some sharp mind and tongue to wake up the authorities sleeping on the issue of flood control and flash floods.